In Minnesota, we are experiencing the kind of two steps forward, one back, progression of spring. We had a couple of days in the 70’s a week ago, and now it is 40 and there are snowflakes in the air. After the weirdness of the last 12 months, we are starting to talk about normal life again. I’ve been been vaccinated and Lisa just received her second shot yesterday. We’ve been working more and more from our campus offices, and while it is quieter than usual, things are starting to liven up again here.
We are also making plans for summer biking. It was a wonderful escape in December and January to ponder where to go and to start looking at maps. 2021 is somewhat of a momentous year, as I will be both retiring and turning 70 in June. We’d wanted to celebrate by taking a remarkable bike trip, and had talked about doing the Pacific Coast Highway from Seattle to Los Angeles and briefly considered the Route 66 bike route. In the end, both of those seemed too daunting, and we settled on a ride from our house to Washington, DC, partly because of the thoughts and concerns we’ve had for our nation in the last few years and even months. We’re planning on about a 21 or 22 day, 1400 mile trip.
My brother Tom lives in Washington and we’d love to see him and his family this summer. The route isn’t too complicated: the first week we’ll ride to Chicago, following the route that I took on my solo ride to Lollapalooza in 2019. Then we’ll follow the Adventure Cycling route from Chicago to Pittsburgh. The last week will be on the Great Allegheny Passage towpath, which connects with the Chesapeake and Ohio towpath for a total of about 350 miles into Washington. We hope to ride up to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial a day or so before my big birthday. More on that later.
We’ve also set up a team with our dear friends Paul, Cindy and Bernie to do the 2021 RAGBRAI (The Register’s Great Annual Bike Ride Across Iowa) in the third week of July. And we are already looking at ride ideas for the fall.
In the meantime, we are getting out on our bikes as often as possible, even though it is still occasionally cold here. Lisa had her COOP bike refitted with a new stem to address some back issues she’s been experiencing. We are checking gear, replacing our panniers (we will be using Ortlieb Back Roller Classics this year) and making plans for dog and house watching during a three week absence from home.
On the way home from one of our recent rides, we came down Summit Avenue in St. Paul, where our governor lives. The mansion has been the scene of dozens, if not hundreds, of protests in the last year. We came upon a group of native dancers and we stopped to watch and listen to the drumming. We weren’t entirely sure if it was a protest, or simply a reminder of indigenous values. A speaker suggested that we go home, look in the mirror and note how beautiful we are and to remember we are a part of the whole creation. It was a wonderful and welcome message, after witnessing other protests over the last year where men were strutting around with huge weapons strapped to their chests. It made us think that this year might be different.
We’ll let you know if that is true, with daily reports from the road as we make our way to the Nation’s Capital. For now, take care, good luck getting your vaccines and happy spring!
PS: we’ve made the blog a bit easier to navigate! Check out the categories on the right for links to individual trips. We’ve also changed the display to a shortened view rather than the entire post. That way, you can scroll down to the first day of any trip easily and then use the “next” button to move chronologically through the days of the trip.